Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Government has failed in promoting sustainable travel

The front page of today's Independent will hopefully shame Gordon Brown's government into reversing the shocking trends reported in travel over the past 10 years. Since Labour came to power in 1997, the cost of car travel has actually dropped by 10 per cent while travelling by train costs 13 per cent more now than back then, and bus travel has risen six per cent during that period. If you go back 30 years, the picture is even bleaker, as successive governments woeful mismanagement of the public transport sector has seen prices rise by over 50 per cent for both trains and buses.

The big question for Gordon Brown is this - will you continue to muddle along allowing yourself to be restricted by existing frameworks, many of which have been put in place by business, or will you have the guts to tear things up and start again? People keep moaning about the trade unions from 30 years ago, but the bald facts are that it is now business that is out of kilter, and needs reigning back in. Of course, if our electoral system wasn't so skewed to producing authoritarian, unaccountable governments, we might have avoided most of this mess simply by electing governments that produced a more balanced - and therefore sustainable - policy over a long period of time. That's the irony of the argument about PR letting in extremists - the fact is, PR forces compromise and checks and balances. Now I'd have thought both are better for democracy than the likes of Thatcher and Blair ruling with no regard for anyone else.

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